Being Better : Stoicism For a World Worth Living In

A book review by JT Leber, CCH 

Authors Kai Whiting and Leonidas Konstantakos

A Call to Stoic Action

With the vast compendium of knowledge at modern man’s disposal, it’s an essential question of how we integrate with our new access to information and what do we do with said information. For many, this knowledge comes upon them as a weight; we hear daily and frequently about the horrors of the day, the coming calamities of our neglect, the ugly and brutish side of man. Though likely hyper-sensationalized, there is a certain truth about humankind and it’s demeanor and attitudes towards one another, culture, and the environment. At the least, it is clear there are problems needing to be solved.

Enter Being Better: Stoicism For a World Worth Living In. This timely treatise brings to light the ancient ways of the Stoic practice and places it squarely in our modern dilemma. The authors first show how Stoicism is an active practice, that engages life, much to the contrast to the idea that it is passive, take-it-how-it-is lifestyle. One is to pursue the notion of eudaimonia, which is the “good life” stemming from a life of virtue. To accomplish this is to live and apply the four Stoic principles: Courage, Justice, Self-Control, and Wisdom. 

The authors take the Stoic lens and apply it to our modern world, looking at social justice, climate breakdown, and the excesses of global capitalism. It is in defining the virtue of “Wisdom” where the authors lay out the raison d'être for the rational and the need for Stoicism in our age. “…Upon learning new facts, we are all morally obliged to change our behavior, though the best thing to do will depend on who we are and our circumstances. In stoicism, there is no single right answer or universal solution beyond a commitment to continually reevaluating and learning how to live out the four virtues. In this respect, the wise person’s job is never done.”

And so the authors make the call to modern man, who’s access to information and knowledge make the capacity for righteous action greater than ever, to pick up the threads of Stoicism and lead a righteous life.